Thursday, September 18, 2008

The Symbolic Annihilation of Women by the Mass Media

In Gaye Tuchman’s writing, The Symbolic Annihilation of Women by the Mass Media, she suggests that television and other media texts, such as women’s magazines do not accurately depict women. Tuchman writes on page 10, “From children’s shows to commercials to prime-time adventures and situation comedies, television proclaims that women don’t count for much.” Tuchman uses the term “symbolically annihilated” to describe how women are extremely underrepresented in television in today’s society. Tuchman suggests that this lack of representation for the female race tells society that women do not have an influence, or matter much in American society.
I found it interesting when Tuchman talked about how women are portrayed as incompetent in television. She also suggests that television portrays an approval of married women and a “condemnation of single and working women.” She writes that “single women are more likely to be victims of violence than married women, and working women are more likely to be villains than housewives” (13). I am not sure I completely agree with Tuchman, especially when she writes that women seem to be underrepresented in media outlets such as television. I think as time and society has been changing, women have been more and more positively represented in television. This is especially true as women have become appointed into more prestigious positions in society such as governmental positions. I do understand, however, that in the past women have been underrepresented, but I feel as if Gay Tuchman over exaggerates the under representation of women in media.

The Devil Wears Prada

I chose this clip from The Devil Wears Prada because when I read from Tuchman that working women are often portrayed as the villain in media, my mind immediately went to this film. Understandably, Anne Hathaway plays a working woman as well, but Meryl Streep is, in this film, the woman with all of the power. She is portrayed as an evil, demanding snotty owner of a women’s magazine. She has all of the power, yet she must be a villain to obtain that power. Anne, on the other hand is not as powerful, and is therefore portrayed as weaker. However, at the end of the movie, Anne somehow sees the light and realizes that because of her job she has been neglecting her lover and she realizes that she needs to reconcile things with her lover, and that there are more important things to life than a multi-million dollar job; like a love. Possibly I am reading too much into this film, because I definitely enjoyed the movie myself, but I can understand Tuchman’s point when she says that women are underrepresented in media images. This successful (Meryl Streep) is portrayed as needing to hold evil characteristics in order to make it big, or make a ton of money. I suppose the movie has a good message in that money is not important, but you do not have to be an evil Meryl Streep (Devil) type of person to have influence on other individuals.

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